September 27, 2021

Volume XI, Number 270

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September 24, 2021

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New York’s Westchester County Amends Co-Op Disclosure Law to Promote Transparency

Westchester County in New York has amended its Co-op Disclosure Law as part of its ongoing efforts to address and eliminate alleged discrimination in cooperative housing purchases.

Co-op boards have substantial discretion in determining which applicants to approve. Under fair housing federal, state, and Westchester County’s local laws, applicants cannot be rejected on the basis of protected characteristics such as race, familial status, national origin, religion, disability, or sex. To promote transparency in the application and purchasing process, local governments such as New York’s Westchester and Suffolk Counties have passed legislation designed to strengthen fair housing laws.

Key Provisions

The law previously imposed requirements on co-op boards to acknowledge receipt of an application from a prospective buyer within a 15-day period and approve or reject the application within a 60-day period.

The amendment imposes the following additional requirements on co-op boards:

  • Disclose to applicants the minimum financial thresholds necessary for approval;

  • Provide a written reason for denying the prospective buyer’s application; and

  • Provide a written report detailing rejected applications to the Westchester County Human Rights Commission on a form to be provided by the Commission.

Civil Penalties

Under the prior provisions of the legislation, co-op boards in violation of the law could incur civil penalties, including a fine of $1,000 for the first offense, $1,500 for the second offense, and $2,000 for the third and any subsequent offense.

As part of the amendment, individual claims can be initiated within a one-year period. However, violations reported by the Executive Director of the Commission may be brought up to one year after the Commission first learned of the violation.

Co-op boards should take steps to ensure they have robust policies and procedures in place, designed to combat housing discrimination. These may include formal application processes, fair housing, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training for board members, and internal complaint procedures for review of unsuccessful applications.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 216
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About this Author

Mary Smith NY Litigation Manager Real Estate Counseling
Mary A. Smith Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Mary A. Smith is a principal and litigation manager in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She serves as a trusted advisor to clients on a broad range of litigation and counseling matters, helping them to understand how developing workplace issues and trends impact their businesses.

Mary defends employers against claims of discrimination (gender, race, age, disability and national origin), sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, misappropriation of confidential information and related tort...

914-872-6907
Delonie A. Plummer Privacy Attorney Jackson Lewis Law Firm White Plains, New York
Associate

Delonie A. Plummer is an Associate in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling. 

In her Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice, Ms. Plummer counsels employers on compliance with federal and state privacy laws, in addition to data breach prevention and response.

While attending law school, Ms. Plummer served as a Senior Associate of the Pace International...

914-872-6923
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